Question by Peter Van Alstyne, North Salt Lake, Utah 

Identifying the levels of importance the lake’s different areas hold is necessary. However, Dr. Patrick Belmont, a hydrologist and geomorphologist at Utah State University, said triaging which parts of the lake to focus on saving isn’t optimal at this point. 

“I’m not saying it’s necessarily the wrong choice,” Belmont said, “but we can save the whole lake.”

He said different parts of the lake do hold different value, however. Farmington Bay has some of “the greatest wildlife value” according to Belmont. 

“Saving Farmington Bay would be a high priority in terms of preserving some of the natural ecosystem,” Belmont said. 

Saving Farmington Bay is important for air quality as well. 

“Farmington Bay has lower salinity, so it doesn’t create quite as much of that salty crust that kind of stabilizes the soils,” Belmont said. This means Farmington Bay will generate more dust as water decreases.

 Belmont said the north arm of the lake is the hardest to save. But he would rather save this part of the lake, too. The north arm is very valuable to the mineral extraction industry. 

However, if this part of the lake desiccated, evaporation over the entire lake would go down, according to Belmont. This would allow more water to flow to the south arm. 

“It’s one way to slow down the loss,” he said.

—Reported and written by McCaulee Blackburn